What happens when you pair a health-conscious, vegan mother of two who has her own diet business with a husband and children who sometimes have other ideas? This blog is a chronicle of my journey to eat and live in a life-affirming way!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Girl Scout Lecture and Granola Bar

I am a Girl  Scout troup leader for my daughter's troup and this week we focused on hunger and nutrition. Super mom Maria gave a lecture and led activities relating to hunger , and I gave the girls a lecture on nutrition. I showed the kids how to reach food labels, we discussed trying to "eat the colors of the rainbow" (ie. making sure your whole plate isn't white and has lots of fresh fruit and veggies on it,) and also touching upon the issue of emotional eating and how we shouldn't eat because we are bored, stressed or sad.

 Here, one of the girls, is reading a food label and reading how much sugar a common cereal has in it!

Here is my "color of the rainbow" chart, which my daughter helped me make!

And, here was one of the girl's favorite part! Do you know what this is? It represents approximately 11 pounds of sugar- the amount the average American consumes in a month! "But, I don't eat sugar or desserts," you say. Well, next time you are eating a boxed or bottled item, look at the label. It may surprise you!

So, after the girls had listenned oh, so nicely, we got to the fun part...making granola!

I set up a granola bar with mason jars to for the girls to fill up, colorful bowls, and lots of healthy ingredients- oatmeal, Go Lean Crunch cereal (no nuts,) sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried raisons, dried apricots, dried bananas, dried cherries and the girls favorite topping dark chocolate chips!  

Here are the girls going down the assembly line.

And, adding toppings in their mason jars.

One girl proudly shows her creation.

The girls all had fun and learned a lot about nutrition and how eating healthily can be fun!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chocolate coconut yogurt with lots of toppings!

I have a confession to make. Until the last few years when I have truly become a vegan, I used to be absolutely addicted to frozen yogurt. You would think that a health-minded person like me would think, no, frozen yogurt is NOT a substitute for a meal but line up out the door to get a cup I did!

But, when New York City gets hot and sunny as it did today, my cravings for something sweet and creamy emerge.

Luckily, a few days ago I made vanilla and chocolate coconut-based yogurts. Of course, you can buy coconut yogurt's such as the ones by So Delicious but the homemade ones are so easy to make and so much better tasting!

So, today I had a Chocolate yogurt with vanilla cream, shaved coconut and lots of chocolate chips!!! Dairy-free, sugar-free, packed with nutrients and antioxidants and bursting with healthy probiotics, I felt light as a feather and so energetic afterwards...

Here are the two yogurts I made a few days ago:

4 cups coconut meat (you can open fresh or buy prefrozen from Exotic Superfoods)
Coconut water (or regular filtered water)
4 capsules of probiotics (I used Innate probiotics- by FAR my favorite brand)

For the chocolate yogurt:
3-4 tbsp unsweetened chocolate powder (I used raw cacoa powder)
3-4 tbsp agave nectar

For the vanilla yogurt:
2 tsp vanilla bean
1 tbsp agave nectar


1) I always believe in doing things in the easiest way possible, so blend all of the coconut meat first. You will need to add water very slowly just to get enough water in there so that the mixture blends smoothly. The less water you put in the thicker the yogurt and I personally love my yogurt thick!

2) Blend in the powder from the probiotic capsules

3) Take 1/2 of the mixture out and set aside.

4) In the blender with 1/2 of the coconut meat mixture, blend the vanilla beans and agave nectar. Place this mixture in a mason jar and cover and put in your dehydrator or a very warm place overnight.

5) With the remaining 1/2, place it back in the blender (hint: if you do the vanilla first, you don't have to clean the blender!) then add the chocolate powder and agave nectar. Add this mixture to another mason jar. This is your chocolate yogurt. Place this mason jar in your dehydrator or a warm place overnight with the other jar.

6) In the morning, refrigerator the jars and THAT'S IT!

A few months ago, I my Easy Peasy Vanilla Yogurt and topped it with shaved coconut, blueberries and Oh Alaska chocolate syrup- yum! The choices are endless and limited only by your imagination!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

PB and Who Needs the J?

One of my favorite foods growing up- ok, I'll admit it, I am still obsessed now- were Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches otherwise known as PB&J's!

Everyone is always asking me for healthy snacks for their children or for pre- or post-workout snacks and my son and I just adore these! We have made a special twist and have used almond butter instead of peanut butter and have sliced the bananas to use as the "bread." So easy to make and kids have fun making AND eating them!

Another option is almond or peanut butter on apple slices or even celery! Yesterday Oliver had the PB's (top picture) and this afternoon after his lacrosse game he had a special treat- Chocolate hazelnut spread (from Le Pain Quotidien) on apple slices.

Nutritious, satisfied his sweet tooth and definitely a better option than other sweet stuff he might have reached for!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Diet Tracking System: My New Obsession!

I have a new obsession. NO, it's not for my Cheesy Kale Chips...

or my Avocado Fries...

No, my new obsession is Lance Armstrong's new diet tracking system at Livestrong! Yes, this tracking system is by the same biking stud who has conquered cancer and has won the Tour de France 7 times!!!

Who would this be good for?
If you are having problems losing weight, are an athete wanting to make sure you are fueling properly, are a vegan and want to make sure you are getting enough protein, calcium or other nutrient in your diet or just feel run down and feel that you are perhaps just not feeding your body right then this is the site for you!!!  

Is it hard to set up or expensive?
No, it is sooooo simple and takes about 5 minutes to set up an account- which, by the way, is free!

When you set up your account, it will ask you to input your age, height and activity level, and whether you want to lose, gain or maintain your wait and it will calculate you daily calorie as well as nutritional needs. So cool!!! Then, all you do is enter all the foods that you have eaten for you day and Livestrong will calculate all of your caloric and nutritional information.

So, while I am doing it because as a vegan I want to make sure I am getting all of the nutrition I need, my husband has become obsessed and is doing it to lose weight. Oh, did I mention... you can download an app for the iphone, ipdad or blackberry?!?! Ok, for my phone-text-blackberry addicted husband this is almost like crack! Sorry for the blurry photo so this is basically what the app on the iphone would look like (and, hopefully, you are not searching for glazed donuts for your food log!)

What was I told?
I was told that I needed:
          1683 calories
55g  fat
252mg cholesterol
2020mg sodium
252g carbs
21g fiber
42g protein

Because I am a runner and a vegan, I thought for sure that I would be low in protein and perhaps some other nutrients but I was amazed that I was getting all of the protein I needed but that my fat and even sugar intake was high. Never would have guessed that in a million years and it made me feel so much better to know that I was getting enough in nutritionally. Helpful information!

So, how does it work? What does a breakdown look like?
Ok, again, it is so easy. You just type in what you have eaten and it locates the food and you just press enter (much like a google search!) The program then does a nutritonal breakdown of the food.

Here is what the breakdown looks like:

Here is what my breakdown for breakfast actually looked like:

Food                   Servings  Cals      Fat      Chol      Sodium      Carbs      Fiber      Protein     Sugars
Raw Cacao Granola   1     498         15           0                9            80            7              14          15
Vanilla Almond Milk  1    67.5        1.9           0            105            12            0              0.8        10.5
Banana                        1    60           0.4           0             1.2            15          3.1             1.3        14.4
Blueberries              0.5    42            0             0             0.5            10.5          2             0.5          7.5
E3 Live shot                6     0            0              0               0              0              0              6             0
Breakfast Totals                 667.5    17.27          0           115.7       117.5        12.1        22.54     47.43

So, I won't bore you with the rest of my day but in that the end of the day, you are given daily intake totals and your percentage of daily allowances (ie. how you have done.) Mine looked like this:

Daily Intake Totals
  Cals 1895 Fat 88g Cholesterol 0 mg Sodium 1134 mg Carbs 293g Fiber 60g Protein 49g Sugars 122g

Customized Nutrient Goals
  Cals 1970  Fat 64g Cholesterol 296 mg Sodium 2364mg Carbs 296g Fiber 25g Protein 49g

Percent of Your Daily Allowance (based upon a 2,000 calorie diet scaled to your calorie goal)
  Cals 96%  Fat 137% Cholesterol 0%    Sodium 48%      Carbs 99%  Fiber 244% Protein 99%
So, basically I met my caloric, carbohydrate and protein needs almost perfectly, was low in sodium and cholesterol (a good thing,) was high in fiber (another good thing,) but way high in fat (not a good thing!) Probably, I am having way too much olive oil on my salads and more than usual added fats in my nuts, avocados, tahini etc... While I am consuming good fats, my overall fat intake is too high so now I know this is something I will work on.

Livestrong also gives you a Calorie countdown chart, Weekly Intake Totals, a Daily Intake Nutrition Chart, and so much more. I just started Monday and am still learning about it but I am impressed!!!

Why do I think this program is effective and will recommend it to my clients?

- Holds a mirror up to your patterns of eating

- Makes you more concious of what you are putting into your body

- Gives you unbiased, scientific breakdown of what you are really eating

I am going to learn more about this and have more fun with it so there will be many more posts to come! Enjoy your weekend!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Raw, Gluten-Free Vegan Mixed Berry Muffins

Here was my breakfast this morning: a Raw, Gluten-Free Vegan Muffin with Brazil Nut Butter- yum!

I have a thing about wasting and, when I am cooking, I try to use everything. So, what to do with my leftover almond and juice pulp...muffins!!! Whether you juice or not, or make your own almond milk or not, these healthy muffins can be made lickedy split and you can have a whole bunch to eat for breakfast or as a pre- or post-workout snack. Although these say "raw," I will heat my kids up in the oven for a bit and they love them too!

Don't be afraid to be creative! If you have bananas that are turning brown, use those. If you only have spinach but no kale then go with that too. If you love apples, add them in. Experiment and have fun!

Gluten-free, Raw Vegan Mixed Berry Muffins
2 cups almond meal (I used the leftover pulp from my homemade almond milk)
1 cups grated veggies (I used the leftover pulp from my leftover juice that was a carrot green juice)
1 avocado
1 cup ground flax seeds (to bind)
1/4-1/2 cup almond milk (just so mixed together)
1/4 cup agave nectar (could use maple syrup or raw honey as well)
1 heaping tbsp coconut butter (I used Vivapura's Coconut Cream Vanilla)
1 cup frozen blueberries
6-8 strawberries

Leftover pulp

Mix all of the ingredients in a cuisinart aside from the berries until mixture smooth. Below is what the mixture should look like at this point.

Add in and stir the berries by hand.

Place mixture in a muffin pan with liners.

Then, place the tin in the dehydrator.

Depending on how big your muffins are, it can take anywhere from 14-20 hours to dehydrate. I put mine in at 4pm and took them out in the morning to flip over then put them in the dehydrator again for 6 hours.

By the way, if you are looking for more ways to use your pulp, check out Gena's Juice Pulp Cracker's on her always inspiring and informative blog, Choosing Raw!

Or, you could make my Mixed Berry Pancakes!

Get creative and have fun!!!

As a sidenote, ANY of these can be cooked and taste just as good for those of you either with a dehydrator or who do not want to eat them raw!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Avocado & Cashew Cheese Sandwich

So, what did I have for lunch today?

Today, I set up the general store at my son's school, went to the gym, wrote an article that was due yesterday, fielded calls and planned my daughter's Girl Scout lecture. So, when lunch rolled around I was more than starving. So, I made an Avocado and Cashew Cheese Sandwich on Carrot Bread and a Carrot Green Juice!

Here is the sandwich. I used Dr. Cow's Cashew Cheese and Rayo De Sol's Carrot Cake bread. Dr. Cow's cheese is made from cashews and is dairy-free and Rayo De Sol's bread is sprouted, raw and gluten-free and contains no added sugar or other preservatives.

Oh, my goshhhhhhh. So delicious. The bread was just a bit sweet and perfectly balance the creamy "cheese" and avocado. I am in heaven.

On the side, I made a carrot green juice because I am BIG on getting in as many wedgies as I can during the day!
In the bowl on the left is the pulp from the juice. I hate wasting so SAVE YOUR PULP! You can use it to make muffins, crackers, pancakes or other breads, sprinkle it on salads, add to marinara sauce to up the nutritional ante or even sprinkle it on your cat or dogs food for more nutrition or fiber.
Take a cloooose look at the bowl on the left because, after I make my almond milk today (I save almond pulp from that,) I plan to make some delicious muffins!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Girl Scouts & Chocolate Buckwheat Granola

You can eat it all and still look great! The big caveat...and, this is a big one- you have to make healthy food choices and eat real foods and a diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains! I am preparing a talk for my daughter's girl scout troup about healthy eating. The focus is on hunger and how many children go hungry in America. While this is heartbreakingly sad and something should be done about it, almost as troubling is the record numbers of children that we have that are obese or have diabetes!

For me, it boils down to 3 Simple Steps:
- Eating foods in the rainbow (you want your plate to look colorful- the more colors the better!)
- The Rule of 5- avoid products containing more than 5 ingredients or ingredients you don't recognize!
- Eat  for nourishment and only when you are hungry (not because you are sad, angry or just plain bored)

If we grown-ups following these simple three rules and stop obsessing over calories and low-fat foods then we would be a much happier, skinnier nation.

So, onto my new favorite (and what I had for breakfast this morning), Kaia Foods Cacao Bliss Buckwheat Granola. Not only is this granola gluten-free, raw, but it does not contain sugar and is sweetened with agave nectar. The companies philosophy is "the belief that our health is best supported by eating an abundance of minimally processed whole foods. We sprout, mix and dehydrate our organic foods at low temperatures so that they remain 'raw.' No baking, frying, bleaching, or weird processing steps!" This granola was crunchy, rich and absolutely delicious!

Here is my cereal bowl this morning: Kaia Granola topped with sliced bananas and blueberries and topped with almond milk. Totally yum! Eating a diet full of whole foods leaves up feeling happy and satiated and certainly not reaching for that croissant in the morning meeting!

Who would feel deprived having a breakfast like this? 

What are your favorite breakfast cereals?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rich, Creamy Guilt-free Chocolate Pudding & the Bake Sale

This is the easiest chocolate pudding EVER and can be made literally in under 10 minutes!

First step is making sure that you have the right ingredients! The 4 ingredients are: coconut meat and water, agave nectar and maca. That's it!

I purchase my coconut meat by Exotic Superfoods from High Vibe . I am all for easy- and, I love it because I purchase tons of the coconut meat frozen and then just keep it in the freezer until I need it. This coconut meat can be also be used in smoothies, curries, you name it!

If you don't have access to this frozen meat and are dying to make this then you have two other choices! Option 1: purchase approximately 3-4 thai coconuts at the grocery store (Whole Foods usually has them) and use the fresh juice and meat from them. Or, Option 2: the cheaters version! Soak 2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut in filtered water for an hour until soft.

Chocolate Pudding
Coconut meat with water (approximately 3 cups of meat)
3 tbsp raw cacoa or chocolate powder
3-4 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp maca (optional but gives pudding more punch!)

Blend in blender until smooth, and voila! The best chocolate pudding you have ever tasted without all of the sugar and dairy!

I suggest pudding the pudding in the frig for an hour or so to let it thicken and chill a bit!

My son had his bake sale today to benefit Haiti! The boys raised $800, which I think is huge for selling cookies!!!

So, this is what we made for the bake sale- Brownies with Extra Chocolate Chips & M&M's. I would post the recipe but basically we used a Cherrybrook Kitchen mix so it was dairy and gluten-free. And, we just added some more extra chocolate chips in the batter and on top and some all-natural "M&M's" by Sunspire.

My son, Oliver, certainly enjoyed his bake sale! I am not sure if the boys sold more to themselves or to others!!!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vegan Mexican Potato Skins

I grew up in Texas, and one of my favorite things to eat were potato skins! Of course, mine were made with white potatos ,and were dripping with greesy cheddar cheese and slattered with real sour cream. I have not had them in yeeeears so decided I would try to make a healthier version.

Gone were the white potatos...in were sweet potatos!
Gone was the sour cream... in was the Tofutti "sour cream"!
Gone was the greesy cheddar... in was the Daiya "cheddar chesse"

The Daiya cheese tasted just as cheesy and the Tofutti "sour cream" tasted just as sour and creamy as the real thing! And, who doesn't love sweet potatoes. I thinly sliced the sweet potatos skins off and grilled them in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. And, then melted Daiya "cheddar cheese" on top. After I took them out of the oven, I topped the skins with refried black beans from Amy's, Tofutti "sour cream" and delicious tomato picante sauce.

This picture does not do them justice- they were to die for!  Not only was this such a quick and easy meal to prepare but it is nutritious and packed wtih protein, fiber, iron and calcium!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stupendous Spinach Souffle

When I was a child one of my absolute favorite things to have for dinner was Stouffer's Spinach Souffle. I know it sounds odd, but when my mom took me to the grocery I would literally beg for her to buy it.  I won't reveal my age. But, obviously, these were not the days when there was junk food at every turn packaged in your child's favorite cartoon character! Although I don't eat milk, dairy or eggs- probably because of the sense of comfort and reminiscence of my childhood- I still have cravings for this dish.

A few years ago, I tried my hand at making a healthier version of my childhood favorite and it has become a favorite in my household now. This Stupendous Spinach Souffle is so easy to make (you can prepare it in under 5 minutes- I promise) and it is also dairy and gluten free.

Not only is it great for dinner- either as a side or a main course- but it is also rich and creamy and great to bring to parties as a dip for pita or even crudite.

Spinach Souffler (Dairy & Gluten-free)
1 package frozen spinach (preferably organic)
1-2 cups dairy-free grated "mozzarella cheese" (I use Daiya, which tastes and melts just like the real thing)
3-4 tbsp Tofutti "sour cream" (ditto above- tastes soooo good!)
Olive oil (approx 2-4 tbsp as desired but not necessary)
Gluten-free breadcrumbs
Sea salt
1-2 garlic cloves

Place garlic in food processor to chop. Add spinach, 1/2-3/4 cups "cheese," 3-4 tbsp "sour cream", a bit of olive oil (if desired- gives it richer taste,) and a dash of sea salt. Process until fairly smooth and place in 1 large or a few small casserole dishes.

Cover top with breadcrumbs then more grated "cheese."

Cook in oven at 350 degrees until the cheese melts and the top is golden brown. Yum, Yum, Yum!

This whole recipe makes a dish containing 18 g of protein, 43% daily requirements of iron, 133% of the daily requirements of vitamin C and 28% of the daily requirement for calcium!

As you can see, my daughter devoured it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

So, how was your Mother's Day? Mine was busy but fantastic! Of course, I woke up to the prerequisite breakfast in bed but then got surprise with not one but two arrangements of flowers and a new digital camera, which I have been dying for!!!

Had my favorite breakfast.

Then, I went for a nice 7 mile run in the park. The weather was bright and sunny and just what Mother's Day is supposed to be!

The rest of the day, I would have like to have said, was spent getting massages and lounging around but that was definitely not to be! My daughter had lacrosse practice and my son a game away in New Jersey so he and I tagged teamed. What ended up happening was that I ended up spending the day with the two people (well, three to be exact if you include the hubbie) who are responsible for being a mother. Isn't that what Mother's Day is all about?

After the boys got back from lacrosse, they took me to my favorite restaurant, Pure, where we sat on the gorgeous, romantic patio. I didn't take pictures of the evening because I promised myself and my family that I would not work or blog on Mother's Day and it was so nice having a day off!

Here is a pic, though, of the favorite dessert, Pure Food and Wine's Peppermint Sundae that I single-handedly devoured. Usually, my daughter and I fight over the spoons but this time she let me have it all to myself-yum! Before, you feel sorry for her, she ordered the trio of chocolate desserts (ice cream cone, chocolate covered ice cream on a stick and chocolate ice cream sandwich!)

What did you do on Mother's Day?

Did you do something special or take your own mother somewhere special?